Is Moore OK to play again?

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

Steve Moore is on the verge of being medically cleared to return to professional hockey, The Toronto Sun has learned.

What hasn't been determined is whether Moore wants, in fact, to return and whether there is actual interest from National Hockey League teams in signing the free agent forward, who many thought would never play again.

Moore's status -- and apparently one medical person already has given him a clean bill of health -- has been at the centre of the controversy surrounding the indefinite suspension of Todd Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi has been waiting to hear whether his suspension for assaulting Moore will continue, which most expect, or whether it will be affected by Moore's assumed improvement in health.

The Bertuzzi camp has long argued that his suspension, in light of a year missed due to lockout, has been overt. The other side of the argument has been: If Moore, who has filed a civil suit against Bertuzzi and others, can't return, why should Bertuzzi.

The idea that Moore would be ready to play in October should turn up the heat on the Bertuzzi debate. The NHL has gingerly stepped through this minefield, not indicating when it will make a decision on Bertuzzi's status. But a decision is forthcoming.

THIS AND THAT

Eric Lindros wants to play for the Leafs, but the feeling is not necessarily mutual. The Jason Allison signing by Toronto made the addition of Lindros improbable ... Before signing Allison, the Leafs had their medical staff check out the long-injured player. What they didn't say was who their medical staff was. The Leafs fired their medical staff recently but won't indicate who the new doctors are ... Add Darcy Regier to the list of confused general managers who misread the new NHL market: The Buffalo Sabres boss let Miro Satan go for nothing and then didn't find adequate replacement for his best offensive player ... Never thought we'd say this, but Paul Kariya is a perfect match for the Nashville Predators. A player with skill and speed joins an underrated team with all kinds of it ... You know this has been a tough week for John Ferguson Jr. when he got outbid for Dave Scatchard of all people.

HEAR AND THERE

Mark Messier has decided to retire from hockey, or at least that's what he's telling people. Expect an official announcement soon ... Under the department of quiet: Genuine interest in Curtis Joseph ... Are the Washington Capitals still in the NHL and if they are, is that where Alexander Mogilny will end up? ... First real bonus of the NHL-NBC relationship: Sidney Crosby charming a whole new audience on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno ... If I'm GM Ferguson, my next order of business is tying up defenceman Tomas Kaberle on a long-term contract. At $2.3 million US a year, Kaberle is well underpaid even by the new league standard ... One player who could help the Leafs and will work cheap is veteran defenceman Jason York, who was solid in Nashville the past two seasons ... And all Kevin Lowe needed to be be big-time was an even playing field ... Now why wouldn't a team in need of goaltending go out and sign Philadelphia's Robert Esche, who is a restricted free agent? Under the new CBA, the compensation would only be a third-round draft pick. And it would force the Flyers to either let him go or match the offer which would put them over the salary cap, and force them to make other moves. That would mean being creative and nasty all at the same time and we wouldn't want that now would we? ... Steve Thomas, at age 42, wouldn't mind one last crack at the NHL and anyone watching the pickup games around Toronto will tell you he deserves one more year.

SCENE AND HEARD

Wasn't that just like Rafer Alston not to show up for Steve Nash's charity basketball game and not bothering to tell anybody? ... Rafael Palmeiro solemnly swears to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, or something in that ballpark ... Explain this: How did baseball spend two months with the knowledge of Palmeiro's positive drug test, allow him to get his 3000th hit, have the all-star game played, and then announce it had a problem. Can you say coverup? ... The newest Dallas Star: Mario Scalzo Jr. ... NHL teams are dreaming if they think Joe Thornton and Vinny Lecavalier will be available in free agency next summer. Both will be signed long-term before then.

AND ANOTHER THING

On the day before J.P. Ricciardi traded for Shea Hillenbrand, he said: "Tomorrow we'll be adding a 20-80 guy to our lineup." For the record, Hillenbrand is on pace to hit 19 home runs and 91 RBI .... For the record, Ricciardi may have said the same of Corey Koskie who, when healthy, has no offensive upgrade over the often maligned Eric Hinske ... And this from Bud Geracie of the San Jose Mercury News: "The A's are 11 games over .500 since their flagship station, KFRC, went to religious programming." ... Isn't life more fun when the New York Yankees are throwing stones at each other? ... Those touting Gustavo Chacin for the American League rookie of the year should pay closer attention to Nick Swisher's statistics with the Oakland A's.

And hey, whatever became of Sheldon Kannegiesser?


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